Sully Enjoying Retirement

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Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III, the Danville man famous  for the January 2009 safe landing of a plane in the Hudson River in New York  after a flock of birds disabled both of its engines, retired earlier this year after nearly 30 years as a commercial pilot.
Actually, "retired" might be too strong a word for what Sullenberger is up to these days, he said this weekend at an event in Hayward for  local youth interested in aviation.

"It was retirement in name only," he said. "I just took one of  many things off my plate, but I still am active as a safety advocate, doing  public speaking, still traveling around, and of course doing volunteer work,  a purpose that's very close to my heart."

That volunteer work brought him Saturday to the Hayward Executive  Airport on behalf of the Experimental Aircraft Association's Young Eagles  program.

In September, Sullenberger was named co-chair of the program along  with Jeff Skiles, his co-pilot on US Airways Flight 1549 on Jan. 15, 2009.  The two men safely landed the plane in the Hudson River, saving the lives of  all 155 people onboard.

Sullenberger said the program, which takes children up in a small airplane for a short flight, "is designed to ignite passion in young people  about aviation, either in terms of a career or for recreation."

The program's flights with the famous pilot today were canceled though due to high winds in the area.

"Part of what aviation is about is managing risk, and especially for people who are not experienced travelers, we want to make it a very  positive and very pleasant experience for them," Sullenberger said. "It was a  bit windy today, so we're going to wait to give them a flight another day."

The decision to land the plane in the Hudson River was a result of Sullenberger's risk management skills.

Rather than trying to make it back to LaGuardia Airport, where the plane had taken off minutes earlier, and risk potentially killing people on  the ground if the plane didn't make it to the airport, he said he decided the  safest option was to attempt the landing in the river.

The events of that day earned Sullenberger nationwide praise and attention. He was invited to President Obama's inauguration in Washington and  honored at the Super Bowl and other events in the ensuing months, including  receiving keys to the city in both New York City and his hometown of  Danville.

He also released a book, "Highest Duty," in 2009, and said that he is working on another book that will be released in the next couple  years.

Sullenberger said he has tried to take all the interest in the story, dubbed by the media as the "Miracle on the Hudson," and use it to  honor his colleagues and inspire the next generation of aviators.

"Within days of our emergency landing in the Hudson, when it first became obvious to us that this story would get so much attention, we felt a  real obligation to our profession and to our colleagues, that we'd be the  best representatives of our profession and our industry," he said.

Bay City News

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